REVIEW: Cattle Valley: Fool’s Gold by Jenna Byrnes
Cattle Valley seems like a nice little town where everyone is living a Gay HEA. I thought the author did a good job of showing a strong community where people support and accept one another. In Fool's Gold, we meet a lot of characters from the other books in this series, and they don't add much to the story. But I enjoyed the small town flavor, and I liked both heroines. Addie's main flaw is that she doesn't make responsible financial decisions. She takes her car to a mechanic but can't pay the charges, she buys a hotel sight unseen, and she isn’t sure if she has insurance. Even for an 18 year old, I wouldn’t find this behavior sympathetic. Addie is a grown woman, hard to respect for these choices.
But never mind that. Where the story really fell short for me was in the romance and the sex scenes. It’s hard to DNF a novella of 100 pages, but I almost gave up several times.
Fool's Gold opens with Addie and her girlfriend, Chloe, on a road trip to Cattle Valley, aka Gay Utopia. They wake up at a truck stop, shower together, and pull over to the side of the road for a steamy quickie. This is my first f/f romance (without an "m" in the mix) so I wasn't sure what to expect. If I had to judge lesbian sexuality by this story, I might reach the following conclusions:
- Lesbians are Hot and Horny.
- They do it wherever, whenever.
- Foreplay is not important.
I can go along with those first two. This is erotic romance-‘I'm looking for explicit sex. But I can't get on board with #3. To be honest, I thought this read like m/m. While men might enjoy having a hand shoved down their pants very suddenly, I assume that most ladies are turned off by such preemptory maneuvers. Addie gets ambushed by Chloe more than once in this manner. I cringed at the thought of being touched like that without a warm-up. Not sexy!
Chloe is a bitchy little brat who thinks Cattle Valley is "boring." She leaves town in a huff. Mel, a sweet book clerk who has had two or three conversations with Addie, replaces Chloe less than 12 hours later. Again, the sex is rushed-‘and the romance suffers. I don't care if Chloe and Addie have fast, unappealing encounters, but I want more tenderness from the main couple. These two fall into bed together with the same dearth of emotion and lackluster foreplay as the previous pair. Some of the language and dialogue reminded me of m/m. Here's a sample:
"Your turn. I'm going to make you come like you never have before."
"I want that more than anything." Addie replied, squashing their mouths together for one last, soul-wrenching kiss.
"On your back, my beauty." Mel pressed Addie onto the bed. She positioned herself in front of the lovely round breasts that had been tempting her. "Mmm, I've wanted to taste these forever." She drew one nipple into her mouth.
"Yeah, oh yeah!" Addie caught the back of Mel's head in her hand and urged her on.
Maybe it's just me, but "squashing their mouths together," and "yeah, oh yeah!" don't sound very feminine. Perhaps I'm being picky here. I was looking for more sexual tension and a deeper connection. I found flaws instead.
Addie and Mel declare their love in short order and continue fixing up the hotel together. Chloe comes back to cause trouble, and some family issues are resolved, but the ending seems like an anticlimactic add-on. I can't recommend Fool's Gold for its romance, although the writing is decent, the setting is interesting, and the characters are likeable. D.
Jane’s Note: Jill contacted me and asked if we would be interested in lesbian romance reviews and I immediately said yes. I know this is something the community has asked about for some time. Special thanks to Jill for bringing this forward. We will have one review a month or so. All review requests can be sent to me: jane at dearauthor.com with “lesbian romance fiction” in the subject line.